Faber and Faber – So Asinine They Named It Twice

My rival Ed Reardon was back on Radio 4 last night. Must be short of money. His accurate damnation of the dying world of publishing, his rejection slips, “Where did you find this address?” and Cheltenham. What a joke. I went to Cheltenham you know. Not the girls school, the College of Arts and Technology. A pretty esteemed alumni. No mention of 20-20 cricket though, and I was alarmed to find that Elgar is 17 and that they share meals. I almost expected him to say something rude about the demise of plucky Peterloo Poets and how they rejected his Navigating the Rochdale Canal By Pedalo in favour of anything by U.A. bloody Fanthorpe. You know, if  U.A. Fanthorpe had written a shopping list on a beer mat Peterloo would have published it.

My collection of  standard poetry rejection slips from the 90s signed by people like  Harry Chambers now look like a specific moment in publishing history. I have the full set of what’s become a very diminished list. I’m glad I moved to prose and sought publishing on the internet before the whole mainstream publishing farrago goes up in its own Arts Council BBQ.

However, I haven’t finished with poetry yet. Back in 1993, my poem Hobson and Hobson excited and intrigued many a poetry workshop. Some said it was like a slap in the face with a snot-filled tissue, but now many years on, post credit crunch, bankers’ bonuses, fat cats, non-doms, and the Tories are back, the reputation of professional people is somewhat tarnished. People will now understand what I was going on about back in the last recession. I recently rediscovered it under a pile of rejection slips, and, well here it is.

Hobson and Hobson

If ever your house

Should develop a problem

Don’t call Hobson and Hobson

Surveyors extraordinaire.

If the whole place

Tilts ninety degrees

Or the walls sink

Up to the eaves

Don’t call Hobson and Hobson.

They’ll frighten the cats

Break all the cricket bats

Dance on the table

And charge you for their labour.

They’ll search every cranny

Right up to the chimney

For signs of distress

And your personal ignominy.

They’ll jump on the roof

And open their brollies

And when it starts to rain

They’ll open up the cavities.

And if your roof

Should develop a leak

They’ll charge you by the minute

Just for a peek.

So decent people take heed

If ever your house

Should develop a problem

Don’t call Hobson and Hobson

They’ll take all they need.

Okay well, I’m still working on some parts. Now leave me alone to sink into a drunken stupor of self-loathing.

Speaking of rejections, I once crossed over into the world of corporate hate and bought the amazing self-help book which claims you can be what you want to be because everything is shite, What Colour is Your Parachute? It’s very good. So good that when I followed the first practical example of how shite everything is, I was shocked at how true it is, or should I say how successful I could be if I actually had the massive ego to carry it through. It says don’t bother sending CVs and talking bollocks about your experience. It counts for nothing. If you want a job ring the CEO of M+S or Sir Philip Green, and ask for an appointment. Just do it! So I rang Faber and Faber.

The Parachute tip was ring after 6 pm, because the head honcho’s PA will have downed tools by then and the top literary agent in the country will be fielding her calls by her sweet self. And let’s face it, what kind of arsehole would phone a lit agent after 6? Needless to say I got straight through to the astonished gal and pitched my poetry collection, a post-punk trawl through working class Mancunian angst. There was a long silence and then the poor cow said, “How did you get my number?” The internet of course, you silly bint! And did you know millions of little people outside London actually do use the internet? So they’ve taken her number off.  Sorry. My fault. Try the Writer’s Handbook £9-95. All good bookshops, just below the 2 for 1s climbing up the windows.

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